By Brittany Doohan
Pica Pica — a gluten-free, Venezuelan restaurant that serves everything from arepas to cachapas to sweet plantains — is now open in Castro, San Francisco! Located on 17th between Hartford and Market Streets, Pica Pica has been long awaited by Castro District residents.
“I would never have anticipated that opening a third location while operating two others would be this challenging, but it was truly a struggle. Initially we thought the Castro would be similar to Valencia, only slightly bigger. That is probably why we thought it wasn’t such a crazy idea to go for a third, as I was pregnant with my third child! But the truth is that this location would not allow itself to be opened until we thought about our concept long and hard, and made the necessary changes to take Pica Pica to the next level,” said founder Adriana López Vermut, in her blog on the Pica Pica website.
Pica Pica has two other locations, one in the Mission and one in Napa, but the Castro spot is their newest baby. The Castro location will have many of the same menu items as the one in the “Mish” (like arepas, their prized corn pockets with many delicious things hidden inside), but they will also provide meal-sized salads, and larger dinner platters, like crispy chicken with black beans, yuca fries and Pica slaw, according to Grubstreet. New menu items in both locations include: Pica Pica nachos, with pulled pork and yuca chips. (Just writing about these dishes is making me hungry!)
Adriana and her father and co-founder, Leopoldo López Gil, believe that “good food is central to the good times in life.” They started Pica Pica to express their love of Venezuelan cookery — boasting a menu that evokes home cooking, artisan and tradition. Adriana comes from a family of cooks and restaurant owners, and uses her expertise for the creation and operation of Pica Pica. Her father is a restaurateur in Caracas, and uses his frequent flier miles to jump back and forth from Venezuela to San Francisco. Leopoldo is also a founding member of the Venezuelan Slow Food movement.
“What Castro offers is more windows into our heritage, to help customers create their own points of reference when it comes to eating a Venezuelan arepa,” Adriana said in her blog.
“Our warmth comes from being on the Caribbean coast, which makes our women beautiful, our humor and lifestyle light and enjoyable, full of warmth, camaraderie and flair. We reflect this in our food, and now we provide more atmosphere in which to experience our offerings.”
3970 17th St
(between Hartford St & Market St)
San Francisco, CA 94114